Motorsports doesn’t seem like a topic that has resonance beyond its limited confines. But in Neal Bascomb’s new non-fiction book, Faster, motorsports takes on a grand scale with a story of political, economic and social importance ... Bascomb has done a masterful job of framing a tale in a rich historical context, full of compelling characters, political and social intrigue, engineering marvels and dramatic descriptions of the dangerous world of auto racing. His thoroughly researched and documented book brings the venues to life, full of the smell of racing fuel, the sound of roaring exhausts, and the thrill of speed ... Bascomb has a knack for explaining the science and art of automotive design and racing without falling into the trap of too much gearhead talk for the general reader. Auto buffs will enjoy the rich detail, while those non-auto fans will be involved with the storytelling and drama. A bracketing device, where author Bascomb gets the opportunity to actually ride in a vintage Delahaye race car, brings the story into the present to great effect....Highly recommended.
Like many of the cars that race through it, Faster adheres to a formula and keeps a brisk pace ... If the outline feels familiar, the story itself is fresh, and told in vivid detail. Bascomb’s research — in racing periodicals in several languages and archival collections on multiple continents — is to be applauded. He describes the twists and turns of the 1930s Grand Prix races as if he’d driven the courses himself. And he organizes his material thoughtfully ... Though Bascomb focuses on the Grand Prix, he takes in all sorts of competitions, from rallies and climbs to trials, which are at least as exciting to read about as the more famous races. And there are some worthwhile detours...These digressions are absorbing but all too brief, as Bascomb hurries to the next starting line. By my rough count, the book features close to 50 race scenes and summaries. For me, this was too much — I wished that Faster were slower — but your mileage may vary.
In this beautifully told book, each page adds to the last, right up to the climactic last chapter. Faster captures, in detail, the glory days of early racing and the drivers who faced down their dangers.
... well-researched ... starts off slowly, maybe wandering a bit too far afield with its many diversions into early-20th-century European-motorsport history. Which is too bad, if it means turning away readers who aren’t already racing enthusiasts from this otherwise excellent account. Once the author gets in gear, however, he moves with the aplomb of an F1 driver who starts in the middle of the pack and works his way up, car by car, to take the lead ... exciting, fast-moving prose.
Bascomb delivers an engaging narrative, filled in with generous profiles of the principal drivers, sponsors, and the fraught era in which they operated. Of special interest to racing fans and readers of WWII.
...the gore and menace in Faster are overshadowed by the elegance of an engine’s thrum melting into a driver’s heartbeat, or the landscape outside a speeding car’s windows disintegrating into a blur. These machines are violent but lovely ... Annoyingly, the book allows religion and Fascism to mostly linger in the background ... the book can’t resist the pull of treating the Rainmaster as a pretty brave guy, laconic and courageous in his white overalls and old leather racing shoes, who just happens to fall in with the wrong crowd. The problem is that he hangs out with Hitler and joins a paramilitary Nazi group called the National Socialist Motor Corps.
... intensive ... Bascomb combines a wide-ranging history of racing --- the tracks and the tricks, the storied rivalries and daredevil tactics that permeated a sport that killed many a driver --- with the rise of the man responsible for the deaths of millions ... memorable on numerous levels.
The wealth of detail in this book will rivet automobile enthusiasts; others might want to take a pass ... Documenting the 100 laps of the 1938 Grand Prix demands much from a writer whose verbs must ricochet off the page like rocketing electrons: zoom, careen, brake, zigzag, swoop, streak, charge — faster and faster and faster — until victory is finally achieved.
Bascomb writes vigorously of the race at the heart of the book, with heart-pounding set pieces ... A luminous book of sports history that explores a forgotten corner of the history of the Third Reich as well.